Does dumping out your Russian vodka feel too much like renaming French fries “Freedom fries”? It just seems like we have seen enough of this movie before to advocate caution and prudence.
Indeed, just days into the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, some of the “footage” emerging feels and sounds like scenes from a movie:
There is the story of the Ghost of Kyiv, a Ukrainian fighter who allegedly took down three, four, five, six Russian planes on the first day of the conflict, depending on which reports you believe.
The official Twitter account of Ukraine tweeted a video on Sunday that read: “Ukraine probably got the first ace since World War II, In the first 30 hours of the Russian invasion in February 2022 he shot down six Russian military aircraft,” it reads as a video montage of fighter jets plays. “As of February 26 – 10 military planes of the occupiers. To become an ace pilot, you need to shoot down five planes. And the Ghost of Kyiv shot down twice as many. … God speed and happy hunting.”
As of today – the Ghost remains “anonymous.”
Real or wholly fictionalized propaganda, the Ghost of Kyiv is most certainly not meme sensation and comedian Sam Hyde.
But that is who U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger implied that it was in a since deleted tweet with a doctored photo reading “The Ghost of Kyiv has a name, and he has absolutely owned the Russian Air Force. Godspeed and more kills, Samuyil!”
A story I initially found moving involved “The legend of Snake Island” and the Ukrainians who died valiantly after telling a Russian naval ship “Russian warship – go F– yourself” rather than laying down their arms.
Except the Ukrainians apparently did survive and did surrender.
Then we have Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, in war fatigues and spouting off epic one-liners, like “I need ammo, not a ride” allegedly in response to an offer to be airlifted out of the country.
The quote that sounds like something Renner or Clint Eastwood might spout off just before turning to a Russian invader and adding “go ahead, make my day,” is attributed to a senior American intelligence official “with direct knowledge of the conversation.”
One might take the words of an unnamed “American intelligence official” with a grain of salt.
Zelensky seemed to further exude the Hollywood bravado as pictures emerged of him shockingly on the front lines in battle gear.
And you caught yourself asking questions such as: “Who is this Zelensky guy – other than an absolute stud?”
But the battle fatigue photos are months old and taken long before the current conflict.
All of it would be mildly funny, if the consequences were not so grave.
None of it is a movie.
The Ukrainians our American media now hold up as inspiring for seemingly embracing two of the things they shun the most – guns and nationalism – are real people, not actors.
As leaders and propagandists pull on our heartstrings, real people are dying.
A world tired of two years of noble lies on COVID is rightfully apprehensive about noble lies now that might lead to World War III.
U.S. Rep Victoria Spartz, originally from Ukraine, articulated the realities of war when she shared the following Serbian saying: “In war the politicians give ammunition, the rich give the food, and the poor give their children. … When the war is over the politicians get back the leftover ammunition, the rich grow more food, and the poor search for the graves of their children.”
Apprehension and caution about escalating a military conflict is not to diminish Ukraine or the resolve of their people.
Facts matter – and they especially matter in times of war.
We have been “weapons of mass destructioned” right into sending America’s best and bravest to die in Iraq for 20 years.
We have seen enough to know the “Shock and Awe” portion of the war is the easy part.
What do you do with the country and the people afterward?
The ammo and weaponry Zelensky called for, or that America consistently passes out during these conflicts or proxy wars, all too often winds up in the wrong hands.
Rep. Adam Schiff echoed the common theme of American interventionist strategy and the hubris that surrounds it when discussing Ukraine two years ago: “The United States aids Ukraine and her people, so that we can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.”
We have tried fighting de facto wars with Russia before – by arming the Afghan Mujahedin with Stinger rockets so that we could fight the Soviet Union “over there” in what became known as “Charlie Wilson’s War.”
In the vacuum and chaos left behind in Afghanistan in the 1990’s – the Mujahedin morphed and evolved into the Taliban, led by Osama bin Laden.
These things have a way of going sideways. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” … until they are not.
Now, seemingly overnight, buildings and profile pictures across America and across the globe have lit up in blue and yellow.
Masks and vaccine statuses have disappeared from profile pictures as seamlessly as COVID restrictions – replaced with the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
Governors advocated and virtue signaled no longer selling Russian vodka – but Americans would still apparently be purchasing Russian oil to the tune of up to 500,000 barrels per day.
Kinzinger, in his infinite wisdom, advocated a no-fly zone in Ukraine, something many have correctly pointed out would mean the necessity of enforcement and potentially shooting down Russian planes.
Pausing now to acknowledge how past interventionism or blind patriotism has led us down the wrong path and to unforeseen outcomes does not make you a Putin stooge or a Russian apologist – it makes you an American realist.
Propaganda and fake stories about the conflict have spread like wildfire. Truth has been the first casualty of war more clearly in Ukraine than ever.
The Kinzingers, Schiffs, Trudeaus, Clintons and George Soroses of the globe have tweeted and amplified in unison the importance of involvement in Ukraine – with Hillary Clinton discouraging dissent and accusing some Americans of providing “aid and comfort” to Putin.
Clinton went further, championing the “success” we had fighting Russia in Afghanistan: “It didn’t end well for the Russians. Uh, there were other unintended consequences as we know. The fact is, a very motivated and then funded and armed insurgency basically drove the Russians out of Afghanistan. … I think that is the model that people are now looking towards.”
Afghanistan, armed insurgency and the Taliban is the model people are looking towards?
It is OK to say some of this feels like déjà vu – and some of this feels like Freedom fries.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio made perhaps the most horrifying observation of all – “I haven’t seen this kind of unity since 9/11.”
I have not either – as we move forward, calls for blind unity should be cause for prudence and concern.
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